Technology Brands Assistance to SMBs

Goals

To provide an overview of what SMBs (small and medium businesses) look for when purchasing technology, the technology brands that are helping SMBs during the time of COVID-19, and how the media is covering the assistance provided by the technology brands.

Early Findings

Technology Purchase Drivers - SMBs

  • Technologies focus on cost and use when considering how to spend their technology budgets. Technology that allows for a great user experience and uncomplicated customization are prioritized. Adaptability is also important.
  • In the next 12 months, SMBs expect to spend on hardware (35%), software (31%), hosted or cloud based services (22%), and managed services (11%).
  • The top drivers of technology purchases are products being at the end of life (66%), refresh cycles (60%), company growth (56%), project requirements (45%), end user need (52%), budget availability (34%), and new technology features (29%).
  • The technology trends SMBs plan to adopt in the next two years are IT automation, gigabit Wi-Fi networking, IoT, container technology, hyperconverged infrastructure, 3D printing, edge computing, artificial intelligence, serverless computing, virtual reality, blockchain technology, and 5G technology.

Case Studies

Alphabet Inc.

  • The parent company of Google has pledged $340 million in ad credits to small and medium businesses that have placed or used the ads platform in the previous year.
  • SMBs that qualify will have their Google Ad accounts credited with the allocated amounts, which will be available for use until the end of 2020.
  • An investment fund capitalized to the tune of $200 million has also been created to assist NGOs and financial institutions providing funding to small businesses.
  • The grants were reporting on in Reuters, CNBC, ARN, and SDX central. The tone of these articles was neutral.

Facebook

  • Facebook, in partnership with Ureeka, has created the Small Business Grants Program to assist SMBs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The value of the grants total $100 million.
  • SMBs with between two and 50 employees, operating for over a year and located in a place with Facebook operations. During the period when applications were open, close to 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries were eligible.
  • The company has also created a Business Resource Hub that centralizes tips, training, and tools for small businesses to remain operating. Guides tailored for fitness & recreation centers, media & publishers, partners & agencies, retail, restaurants & Cafes, and salons & spas are available.
  • Facebook's assistance to SMBs has been reported on in ADWeek, econsultancy.com, and CNBC.com. The tone of the reporting has been neutral, however a CNBC article discussed how the company's quick response could address the company's reputation positively.

Verizon

  • Verizon provided a webinar series targeted at small businesses, partnered with American Express for the "Stand for Small" initiative for small businesses, and partnered with LISC, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to fund support to small businesses facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
  • The value of the support partnership with the LISC amounts to $7.5 million, comprising an initial $5 million donation plus an additional donation of $2.5 million on 20 April 2020.
  • The first round of grants received over 55,000 applications from which 200 were selected to receive $10,000.
  • Verizon's partnership with LISC has been covered by Yahoo Finance and the USA Today. The tone of the coverage in both publications was neutral.

YouTube

  • On 14 April 2020, YouTube launched the YouTube Video Builder aimed at helping small businesses lacking the creative and technical skill sets to create videos.
  • The product was in the testing phase before the pandemic, but was launched as a way to provide low cost options for small businesses to communicate with existing and potential customers. The SMBs will need a Google account, or a Google account to which they can link their non-Google email address, and a YouTube channel.
  • TechCrunch, the KimKimando Digital Goddess Blog, and econsultancy.com, and Blue Corona provided coverage of the product launch. The tone of the reporting was informational.

Cisco

  • Cisco announced $2.5 billion in financing for businesses to access while addressing challenges brought on by COVID-19. Businesses can access the financing through the Business Resiliency Program.
  • The program features deferments of up to 95% of the cost of new products or solutions up to January 2021 and a 90-day payment holiday. Eligibility for the program extends to all CISCO software, appliances, services, and up to 5% of the partner provided services.
  • The company has also committed to providing up to $225 million in cash and in-kind, and planned support to the COVID-19 response. This is in addition to the free Webex and Security services offered by the company.
  • Cisco's response has been reported on by SDX Central.

Pinterest

  • Pinterest launched a sustainable collection curated from small businesses on Pinterest Shop after noting a 351% increase in searches for supporting small businesses.
  • The collection features products from 21 SMBs.
  • Pinterest has also partnered with influencer Lauren Conrad, who has created a board of sustainable products curated from The Little Market, the fair trade marketplace she owns.
  • Impact and econsultancy.com reported on the launch in an informational manner.

Kabbage:

  • Kabbage has created a gift certificate program to support small businesses, wherein any individual or business that wishes to support the program can purchase the gift certificate to support the SMB.
  • Participants in the program have to create a free account on Kabbage Payments, where they would enter their information and then connect to the account where the funds are to be deposited. Kabbage will not benefit from the program.
  • The certificates can be valued between $15 and $500.
  • This program was reported on in ibsintelligence.com.

Summary

  • Initial research focused on providing an overview of the drivers of technology purchases in SMBs, and on providing brief case studies of how technology brands have assisted SMBs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tone of the reporting on the assistance from the technology brands has also been provided.
  • The focus was kept on the assistance provided by US technology brands, should you require additional research please advise whether the research should retain a US focus or should it be extended to a global focus.
  • Options for additional research on this subject is provided below. Please indicate if you wish to proceed.

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